School District Works to Balance Costs and Class Size

The Los Alamos School Board met Wednesday at which Superintendent Gene Schmidt updated the Board on efforts to solve the problem of large second grade classes at Barancca and Aspen Elementary (24 students) and Mountain Elementary (27 students). Instead of a half-time instructional assistant, a full-time assistant will be added at Barranca. Full-time aides are already in place in the second grade classes at the other schools. If it is the will of the Board, the District will committ to a 1-20 teacher-student ratio, Schmidt said, however, paying for a teacher position is a concern. Currently, the District will pursue stratagies such as placing student teachers in large classes and recruiting parent volunteers, Schmidt said. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Los Alamos High School economics teacher Brian Easton fears that high school staffing will suffer to fund more elementary teachers. ‘Please don’t put a bullseye on us,’ he said. Class size is growing and there is no over-abundance of teachers at the high school, Easton said. He suggested changing the way students at the high school register for classes and looking at cutting personnel who do not interact with students as cost-saving measures. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Superintendent Gene Schmidt updated the Board on negotiations with Highlands University and the University of New Mexico to bring a master’s degree in education program to Los Alamos teachers. Nine teachers are interested in the program this fall and 13 more in the spring. Highlands offers lower credit hour costs and onsite live teaching, Schmidt said. Negotiations are still underway with both universities, however. Funds are in place from a start up grant from the LANL Programs Office ($10,000) and Title 2 funds for staff development ($10,000) to get the program going. Board President Jim Hall, on behalf of the Board, urged Schmidt to proceed quickly with the negotiation and get the program up and running this fall. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
LAPS Business Manager John Wolf updated the Board on anticipated state legislation affecting school funding. A report suggesting a change to a ‘census-based formula’ for funding special education could cause cuts to the special education and GATE programs in Los Alamos. A census-based model would set a percentage of the student population who could be funded as special education students for each district. Because of the high number of special education and especially GATE students in Los Alamos, the District would see cuts if this model is adopted, Wolf said. The discussions are still in the early stages, however, and the District will be watching to see what legislation is proposed. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
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